Day 46: Netzach b’Malchut

Netzach b’Malchut

by Maggid David Arfa

How do we endure? How do we persevere for the lang haul,

over decades? I remember how giddy I was during Earth Day 1990. I

graduated from Michigan

State with my brand new

Bachelor degrees in Environmental Policy and Wildlife Ecology while at the same

time, I saw Earth Day go mainstream! Newsweek, Time and dozens of other

magazines had glossy covers with real information about the state of the Earth – forest, oceans,

farmland, toxics, extinction and even climate change! In my euphoric

haze, it seemed to me that environmental education was to the 1990’s as

‘plastics’ were to the 1960’s. Lists of simple changes

were selling like hotcakes! The world seemed ready. I conveniently ignored my

confusion when my Valedictorian speaker squawked excitedly about how she can

now go out and buy all sorts of new things…stereo’s, clothes,


Cognitive dissonance was easy – sure, no one paid much

attention to the 50 difficult things to save the Earth list, however did that matter?

After all, a certain prince, er, senator, wrote the truly smart and visionary

book, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. He had entered

politics after taking classes in divinity school and working as an

investigative reporter! And then he actually became vice president and a

heartbeat from the presidency! We were one step away from the Garden of

Eden, weren’t we?

Needless to say, Mashiach, the Messiah, did not come. I find I am

a sucker for leaders who espouse hope, and yet, when I allow my hope to take up

residency inside their heart, I find myself eventually forsaken. Why is it so

easy to deny our inner source of hope, (as easy as a hand blocks the sun says

the Baal Shem Tov)? How do I learn to listen, as Emily Dickinson did, to

the hope with feathers perched in my own soul?

Could the prayerbook be seen as a hope manifesto? A healing remedy

for daily endurance and perseverance. After all, it is filled with gratitude,

wonder, love, emotional honesty, interconnectedness, presence, silence, grief

and a fierce yearning for personal and collective redemption. How does the

prayerbook manage to send us into our days with renewed hope in our hearts? What

does the prayerbook teach about hope?

Well, to open one facet of this diamond that is the prayerbook,

have you ever noticed how the powerful images of past national redeemings are

placed strategically? For instance, crossing the sea and becoming freed from

slavery is placed in the redemption blessing that comes just after the Shema. When

the grind of daily actions begins to overwhelm, our zeal begins to flag, and we

think our days will just go on and on with the same old drudgery, the same old

cranky conversations without ever getting to redemption, bam- the Rabbis remind

us of the success of past redemption. It happened before and it can happen


Remember, they seem to say, that our world is a non-linear system,

and our tomorrow can be very different from today. No one knew the day before

the Berlin Wall came down, and yet everything changed. No one could predict a

musical genius named Stevie Wonder would enter the world, and everything

changed. No one could predict that the small shrew like mammals living under

the feet of the dinosaurs would evolve into the robust bush of mammals we see

today! Who really knows what tomorrow will bring? Netzach b’Malchut.

Reflection/Action: What redemptive memories

do you carry that inspire you socially or politically? Reb Nachman of

Bratslav asks us to also remember personal redemptions – along with redemption

by sea…especially at Pesach. To remember and share personal stories about

surviving a life-threatening illness, fire or other calamity. What stories of

personal redemption do you carry?

For me, I

remember being 17 and illegally riding in a camp car with 5 other camp

counselors. It was during session break and no campers were around. We

were driving 50 mph, which was way too fast for the dirt road we were on.The

road turned left; we did not. Miraculously, we skidded off the road into the

only open patch of field along that roadside – all the rest of the roadside was forest trees. Hope renewed. How about your stories of redemption? Here's to the power of carrying on. Netzach b'Malchut.

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